pMic is a 3D-Printed A-B Stereo Mic You Can Make Yourself; Hear It

Now, the next time you want a stereo microphone, you can hit print. Well, okay – that’s not entirely correct. But a combination of last-century DIY (circuits for making the mic) with this-century DIY (3D printing for making a convenient housing) means a custom microphone you can build that’s exactly suited to your needs. And, oh yeah – it’s both cheap and fun. Frank Piesik shares this project via Google+ and his blog. The plans are open-sourced and available on GitHub, so you can try making your own if you like; you’ll just need a 3D printer or 3D printing …

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Patchblocks: Modular Synth Units, Programmed Visually [Sounds, Gallery]

Patchblocks’ creator says he wanted this hardware sound construction set to be like a combination of Max, Arduino, Moog, and LEGO. And in a novel, crowd-funded project, you get a set of units that seem very much like that. “Modular” is the angle, like a variety of hardware we’ve seen lately. And the Patchblocks satisfyingly snap together via puzzle piece-shaped interlocks in acrylic. But perhaps the real story here is that each of these “blocks” can be programmed to do what you want, not in code, but using a Max/Pd-style visual patching interface. With just one block, in fact, Patchblocks …

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aleph Soundcomputer: Interview with monome creator Brian Crabtree and Ezra Buchla

aleph is something of a curiosity: it’s a dedicated box uniquely designed for sonic exploration that isn’t a conventional computer. It comes from the creator of the monome, but while dynamic mapping is part of the notion, it is the first monome creation capable of making sound on its own. The monome is a controller that uses a grid for whatever you want; aleph is a self-contained instrument that makes any sound you want. In review: aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything But this isn’t only a story about some specialist, boutique device. It’s a chance to …

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Interview: Sheffield’s The Black Dog Branch into Controllers, With Crowd-Funded Gear

The Black Dog are titans of experimental techno and house, with a long record to match. (We reviewed – and praised – their latest album, Tranklements.) But you may not associate them with manufacturing hardware. As the landscape of crowd-funded music hardware grows, though, that’s exactly the venture they’re now willing to take, as the members of that group co-found a new, England-based manufacturing company dubbed Machinewerks. And the results so far already give insights into what they value in controller design and how they use those controllers in their music. They’re now well on their way to funding a …

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Moog Says Goodbye to Little Phatty with Lush Video, as Company, Synths Grow

What an extraordinary time of transformation it’s been in music instruments – one which has coincided unintentionally with the development of this site. When the Little Phatty first hit the market in 2006, it really was a very different era. While Moog Music had already shipped the Voyager and brought back Bob Moog’s name to their products, the market was dominated by digital instruments and in particular big workstations. Now, a whole lot of keyboards follow the path established by the Little Phatty: provide affordable instruments for musicians, use analog circuitry, embrace the monosynth, adopt one-to-one control of parameters. It’s …

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Armin van Buuren DJ Boombox a Pale Imitation of the 80s; A Look Back at Real Ghettoblasters

In the latest megarich DJ – electronics manufacturer collaboration, we find Dutch giant Philips with Armin van Buren. (In fact, you might begin to wonder if these guys are just competing over the Forbes highest-paid DJs list.) This time, what you get is an all-in-one iPad dock with DJ control surface with speaker. That in itself seems not such a terrible idea, but then the problems start. Apart from the usual concerns about obsolete dock devices, the dock slot here places the iPad in an uncomfortable vertical position. There are physical controls for DJing, too, integrated with the (rather excellent) …

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A Brilliant 199€ Hardware Sequencer with Jog Wheel: MTRX-8 Preview [Photos, Video, Interview]

Sleek and black, sporting a high-resolution jog wheel, the MTRX-8 is a futuristic sequencer the likes of which you probably haven’t seen in hardware before. Even though it’s the product of a boutique DIY maker – France’s Fyrd Instruments, aka designer Julien Fayard – it’s eschews the usual homebrewed, retro aesthetics. And it’s not expensive, either; the launch price has been lowered to 199€ based on early demand. It’s a MIDI sequencer, it’s a drum sequencer, it’s a performance-geared machine with quick access to presets, and it’s covered with quick access controls rather than confusing menus. At last, it’s sequencer …

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Expressive NDVR Keyboard: New Hardware, Polyphonic Aftertouch Done Right?

The centuries-old piano keeps fighting back every time someone tries to improve it. Case in point: polyphonic aftertouch. The cause for something new was straightforward enough. On a normal piano, you lose expressive possibilities once you play a note. Because of the necessity of the way hammers work, your fingers are left holding down keys and doing, well, nothing. The piano continues to do beautiful things with the sound – resonating and such – but you’re no longer involved. after you depress a key, keep pressing down to add additional expressive input. (Various historical devices have used everything from keys …

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What Does it Mean to Be an Electronic Instrument?

The electronic music analog to visual media’s question “is it art?” is clear. “Is it really a musical instrument?” Ableton will this week officially launch its Push hardware with Live 9; we’ll have an online exclusive review alongside that release. I know that the company is fond of calling it an “instrument.” For a profile by the German-language magazine De:Bug, Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles even posed with a double bass, the Push set up alongside. The message was clear: Ableton wants you to think of Push as an instrument. We’ll revisit that question regarding Push, but this isn’t only important …

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More Than Ever: Tour Dave Smith’s Monster Synth, the Prophet 12

The Prophet 12 from Dave Smith Instruments is a landmark synth: packed with polyphony and sound features, it’s the latest demonstration that “new” and “synth keyboard” can go together. So, for our first-look tour through the new Prophet, we get a special treat – writer, electronic musician, and mathematician Gina Collecchia got a hands-on look with the engineers who designed the instrument. Gina, who demystifies signal processing for all the rest of us in her book Numbers and Notes, get to talk with Chris, one technologist to another. -Ed. Meet the newest member of the Dave Smith Instruments family: the …

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